But out?

But out?

I find that I often sabotage a good thing with the word “but”.  I always seemed to find fault with something.  It was part of my negative cycle.  I’ve decided rather than ban the word from vocabulary entirely, I’d switch it up.  When ever I find myself thinking something negative I use “but” to find a silver lining.

I HATE winter.  It’s not the cold so much.  It is the dark!  I don’t like waking up and it is dark for hours and then I leave work and it is nearly dark already.  I work in an office all day and though I have a window I almost always have to keep the blinds closed because of glare.  By the time the sun comes up, I don’t have enough time for a walk and I don’t want to leave my house in the evenings.  So being that we are in dead of winter, I’ve been a bit more negative than usual.

After a particularly long stretch of rainy, cold days (we don’t get much snow here), I was gripeing again about the weather – it was bitterly cold that day. But the sun was out!  But the forecast for tomorrow was warmer! But the heat pump didn’t freeze up now that we built the cover.  But my car starts up right away even in this bitter cold.  But now I can eat stew!

My guy is starting school again this week.  Four days a week and then weekends will be homework time.  And he is already putting in longer hours at the new job.  We will have much less time together.  But we can eat dinner together most of those nights.  But I can go to the gym without feeling that I’m not home enough. But now I can take those classes at Michaels.

It’s about looking on the brighter side.  It’s about looking for opportunities instead of loss.

“But” is like a fork in the road.  You can be on a good path and “but” yourself right down the negative road.  You can be on a rocky path and use it to take a higher road.  “But” really is all in your head!



Resolutions for 2015

Resolutions for 2015

I usually do my “New Year’s” Resolutions on my birthday but for the sake of blogdom, I am doing them early.  Here they are….

2015 Resolutions

  • Health & Fitness
    • Loose 10 lbs by my birthday (April)
      • Cut carbs and sugar
        • try one new low-carb recipe each week
      • drink more water
        • replace one cup of coffee each day with 8 oz of water
        • after one week replace another one
      • Measure and weigh food
      • keep a food log
    • Be able to do 10 full pushups and 10 burpies by my birthday
      • go to gym 3x a week
      • find a yoga class that fits my schedule
  • Business
    • Talk to a lawyer by March about legal requirements
    • Have a “shop” or consignment arrangement by June for furniture
    • Participate in one craft fair or bazaar this year for home decor items
  • Personal
    • gratitude journal – not just OLTP list – 3x a week
    • continue meditation practice – work up to 10 minutes by June
      • spend at least two hours each weekend decluttering
    • finances
      • 52 week savings plan

As you can see, my main focus for the first part of the year will be Health and Fitness, an area which has suffered over the last 6 months.  I am also considering starting a business – I refinish furniture, make home-decor items and do interior redesign.  I will begin small and re-evaluate as I go.  Simplifying my life is another item on the list as is continuing my happiness practices.  Pretty ambitious.

One of the reasons that I think this is doable is because my guy will be back in school in January.  This means most of my weeknight evenings will be free and he’ll be doing homework on weekends.  I can choose to spend my time in front of the TV or doing something that will help me achieve my goals.  I am going to choose my goals!

What are your New Year’s resolutions?


Looking Back and Moving Forward

Looking Back and Moving Forward

The year is almost over.  Hard to believe – it seems to flow by faster as I get older.  It’s traditionally a time of reflections – best of and worst of lists abound.  And don’t forget “the year in review”.

2014 started out with sadness – death.  But there was also hope – the possibility of healing – rebuilding damaged relationships.  But in the end that was not to be.  Moving on is all I can do – learning what I can and letting go as well.  I will not dwell in loss – I will cherish what is.

The black cloud that hung over my head threatened most of the year.  One event – that one letter in the mail turned my world upside down.  But I took action to help myself – to not let it take away what was good in my life.  And so much came out of it – learning about happiness and gratitude and courage and faith and hope and letting go and moving forward.

Through all this I have learned more than anything how to build on the positive things in my life – and now I see that there are many!  I’ve learned to appreciate and be grateful. I’ve learned that I can choose happiness.  I have learned to be mindful, grateful and charitable.  I am more resilient, more at peace, more optimistic and yes happier – with a much deeper understanding what happiness really is.

I often think on that day as a watershed, a pivotal point, a fork the road.  No it was not good, but good came out of it because I chose to focus on the good.

So as I break for the holidays, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy holiday season.  Enjoy!


How to change other people

How to change other people

I used to think that someone else could make me happy.  If they just changed, I’d be happy.  If someone loved me, I’d be happy.  If I had great friends, I’d be happy. If my family, boss or coworkers gave me credit for what I did for them, I’d be happy.   When these people didn’t measure up, I was unhappy.

I made a fatal mistake – depending on other people to make me happy – thinking if they changed, I’d be happy.  I put my happiness in the hands of others. All along though, my happiness was under my control.  I could decide to be happy even if I was single, friendless or unappreciated.

Happiness is my perspective on my life, not based on the feedback of others.  I have to change if I want to be happy.  I need to love myself to be happy.  I need to be comfortable being alone to be happy.  I need to be confident in my own actions to be happy.

I really believe that you can’t be in a successful, fulfilling relationship if you don’t love yourself.  I don’t think you can have good friends until you know how to be a good friend.  I don’t think you can do a good job at anything if you constantly need someone telling you how great you are – the motivation, the feeling of accomplishment must come from within.

And when things are not going well, I know I am the one who needs to make some changes.  Only I can change my life.  You can’t change other people.  Don’t even waste your time.  You can try to influence other people but only they can change.  So don’t look to others to make you happy.  Look in the mirror.




Rethink the Holiday Season

Rethink the Holiday Season

This week is Thanksgiving. It marks the beginning of the holiday season.

This Thanksgiving, I have much to be thankful for. Plus I’ve learned over the past months how to be more aware of the little blessings – the people, the moments, the simple pleasures that are part of real life – a good life – my life.

This year, we will have a quiet simple Thanksgiving – just the two of us. Yes we could join others for the turkey and trimmings but one of my focuses this year is to avoid “drama”. And sad to say, often the holidays involve “drama”. Family frictions fly. People drink to much, compare to much, stress too much and expect too much.

This time of year if full of “shoulds”. We should go to Moms. We should buy a gift for so and so. We should go to all those holiday parties. We should put up lights. We should have turkey. We should get that “deal” on Black Friday.

Maybe you shouldn’t! Maybe you can go to Mom’s for dessert but skip the meal. Maybe it is time to stop buying “obligation” gifts. Maybe you should cut back on the holiday decorations. Maybe you ought to skip a party or two. Maybe you should eat lasagna! Maybe you should stay home on Black Friday because the cost of the stress might outweigh the savings.

Maybe this is the year to focus on the meaning of the holidays and building experiences that bring peace and joy to your life.

Thank you for reading this blog and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

An Optimistic View of Failure

An Optimistic View of Failure

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new project. I’m getting back to my creative side and working with some new mediums.  Taking the idea from my head to a finished piece is both exhilarating and frustrating. Sometimes a technique works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes a color or finish is just what I envisioned and sometimes it is less than pleasing. Sometimes it isn’t what I anticipated and is even better. As I struggle with the right amount of material and the right choices, I find I am disappointing in the results – it’s like making a recipe that sounds delicious, but ends up not so good.

But I haven’t thrown in the towel! As tempting as it might be to pack away my supplies and move on to something “safe”, I’m soldiering on with an optimistic attitude. Each less than perfect attempt is a learning experience. It is one more piece of the puzzle that will result in success. Persistence pays off. I am learning about technique and tools and process. I’m growing and I will bloom.

Did you ever meet someone who if they aren’t the best at something, they won’t do it again? Or someone who won’t play a game or sport if they don’t win the first time they play? I think they lose twice – and the loss of the opportunity to  learn and grow and achieve is far worse than the first loss.

“Failure” has so much to teach us if we rise to the challenge and see it as a positive things – a motivational thing. Failure can spur us to learn, re-evaluate, problem-solve. Sometimes the biggest lesson from failure is to show what we don’t want. (I think this is particularly true of relationships). Sometimes in overcoming a failure we encounter someone or something that adds an extra layer of richness to our lives – a coach, a mentor, a new friend, a new direction, a new insight.

This happened to me a few years ago. I won an interior design contest and the prize was the opportunity to attend a design seminar by a very popular, high-end designer.  It was a fabulous prize and something I could never afford on my own. I traveled on my own for the first time, stayed in  fancy hotel and got to meet not only this designer, but several others as well. The other attendees were all people who shared my passion for interior design. I wouldn’t call the experience a failure but it wasn’t what I envisioned. However I learned so much, mostly about myself and what my true passion is – not designing fancy houses but helping regular folk enrich their homes with their own style with accessories and styling. And so I help my neighbors lay tile floor, pick out paint colors and accessories and rearrange furniture. A disappointment lead to a new insight and direction.

Here is another example. My guy is going back to school to get the degree he needs to advance in his job. With 15 years experience, he really wasn’t too keen on the idea of sitting in intro classes in his field. At first people gave him vague answers or referred him to someone else. He kept getting the run-around. Oh, and it was frustrating. Another person might have just given up and taken the classes, spending time and money. But no, for him, it was a challenge and he prodded, followed up, pushed and demanded answers and in the end was rewarded with credit in several classes, shortening his time in school by at least a semester.

I think it also helps if you go into something expecting to have challenges and problems or roadblocks so that when you encounter them, you are already in an optimistic mindset to see them as a challenge and an opportunity.

Has “failure” ever turned out to be a good thing for you?



How To Maximize Your Happiness

How To Maximize Your Happiness

The best way to maximize your happiness is not to attempt to maximize your happiness!  What?

Maximizing, in the psychological sense, is a form of perfectionism. In every choice (and that is what life is – a series of choices – big and little and in between), Maximizers always need to make the “perfect” choice. They demand the greatest amount of pleasure or benefit from every opportunity or choice. Since life is not perfect, not every experience is perfect, not every person is perfect and not every thing is perfect, Maximizers will always end up less happy. Maximizers also end up less optimistic, have lower self esteem and have less life satisfaction.

So what is the secret to maximizing you happiness? Choose to be happy by changing the way you make choices. Become a Satisficer!  Satisficers feel content with their choices as long a as they meet a certain level of acceptability. In other words, it is good enough. It meets my needs. They focus on what is good not on what might be better – in people, activities and things. Once they’ve made a choice they focus on the positive aspects of their choice.

It all begins with establishing the criteria for a “good” choice. For me, I chose a car because I wanted to be able to carry stuff. I choose food based on certain nutritional standards. I choose shoes based on comfort. I choose clothing based on black – if it goes with black pants, it’s a go! Sometimes price is the most important criteria, sometimes it is not. I chose my apartment based on an having an open floor plan and a washer and dryer in the unit and price. When we travel the hotel has to have king-size bed, continental breakfast, a coffee pot and fridge in the room and a hair dryer. I am currently shopping for motorcycle boots. I already have a set of criteria – leather, good fit, mid-calf. When I find them I’ll buy them. I’ll be shopping for a recliner soon – one criteria – wall-hugger.  I won’t even waste my time looking at anything else – no matter how nice the fabric is.

Please don’t get the idea that Satificers “settle”. They just make decisions based on what they really want and they know what they really want. They are happier with their decisions and have more life-satisfaction.

Are you a Maximizer or a Satificer?  Take this quiz.